AirPlus International Releases “The Wire” - Open Booking: A Mixed Bag

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Despite the chatter about Open Booking as the next wave for travel management, the majority of travel managers don’t see it as a viable approach for their companies.

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"It is clear that in its present form, open booking only holds appeal for a minority of travel managers. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed expressed no interest in adopting such an approach."

In the latest edition of "The Wire...from AirPlus," nearly 100 corporate travel managers from the United States and Europe share their opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of open booking and their interest in pursuing open booking at their companies.

Throughout the past six months, a flurry of discussions have focused on new approaches to a growing problem – how to keep travelers within policy given the exponential growth of new and easy booking options outside of standard preferred corporate channels. The concept of open booking – which gives travelers the option to book through any channel they want, including supplier direct channels – purports to address this issue.

However, based on survey results, it is clear that in its present form, open booking only holds appeal for a minority of travel managers. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed expressed no interest in adopting such an approach:

  • Thirty-seven percent said, “No, it wouldn’t work for my company.”
  • Thirty-four percent said, “No, I have my doubts about its viability for any company.”

Still, 21 percent are open to the concept, responding that their companies are currently discussing the possibility of adopting open booking, in addition to those already using a policy or planning to implement a policy:

  • Seven percent say they already have an open booking policy;
  • One percent says it plans to implement a policy within the next 12 months.

Additionally, travel managers were asked which of several statements – both positive and negative – characterized their own attitudes about open booking. The majority of travel professionals indicated concerns that included:

  • I have concerns about data capture (79.3%)
  • I could not support my supplier relationships (60.9%)
  • I don’t know how I’d track travelers for safety and security purposes (72.8%)

The number-one positive attribute, at 35 percent, was the thought that open booking increases traveler satisfaction, while only 12 percent thought it could bring better budget control and only four percent thought it could boost compliance.

On the whole, however, travel professionals are willing to concede that there may be some merits to open booking, even if it is not right for their company at this time. When asked if they expected open booking to catch on industry wide, the results showed:

  • Sixty-five percent said somewhat;
  • Twelve percent said yes;
  • Twelve percent said no;
  • Eleven percent conceded that they did not know.

For those who said, “Yes, it addresses the new realities of technology and traveler needs,” the expectation may be that open booking could address the large number of under-35 travelers who often book outside the preferred channels for at least some of their travel. As corporate travel managers seek to stem this growing leakage, open booking, either alone or as part of a hybrid managed travel program, might prove an opportunity worth exploring.

"The Wire...from AirPlus" is a monthly pulse report for the business travel industry on timely and relevant topics. For this and previous editions, visit the AirPlus website.

AirPlus International is one of the leading international providers of solutions for daily business-travel management. More than 38,000 business customers rely on AirPlus for their business travel payment and analysis needs. The products and services are distributed worldwide under the AirPlus International brand. The AirPlus Company Account is the most successful invoicing account of the Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP). For further information, please refer to

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Peter Kane
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